How to Become a Health Coach

How to Become a Health Coach

As a Certified Health Coach, one of the common questions I get from other wellness-junkies is how to become a health coach.

In this post, I’ll share my tips for exactly how to become a health coach. But first, we shall start with why. 

Why Become a Health Coach?

In America, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 69% of the population is overweight or obese, and 1-in-2 men and 1-in-3 women will get cancer at some point in their lifetime. It’s now normal to be fat and sick. (And I used to be part of the American “normal”). 

Personally, learning about nutrition and changing my diet completely changed my life, in more ways than I ever expected. Once I realized the power of food, I wanted to teach everyone.

You see, the truth is, no one is really teaching us about nutrition, and the connection between our diet and our health. We don’t learn about it in school, we’re fed confusing and misleading messages by food manufacturers (“whole grain” Froot Loops, anyone?), and according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the average American doctor gets less than 24 hours of nutrition instruction during their entire time in med school.

Health Coaching is a relatively new thing (since the 70’s), but I believe it is absolutely the future of health care, and so does the Chair of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, Dr. Walter Willet, without a doubt the most respected nutritionist in the world, as you can see in this video below. (He also teaches a lecture at the Health Coaching program I attended.) 

 After health coaching for over 3 years now, I can absolutely say there is no better feeling then when a client tells me, “you changed my life.”

Food changes everything.

How to Become a Health Coach

grocery store tour maria marlowe

OK, now that we’ve gotten the why out of the way, now I’ll outline how to become a Health Coach. There are essentially, just three steps. 

First, Ask Yourself the Following Questions: 

  • Are you passionate about nutrition, health, and wellness? It’s not enough to like it. You have to love it. Maybe be borderline obsessed with it. You must have a passion and curiosity about these 3 things in order to be a successful Health Coach. 
  • Are you willing to do the work? Most Health Coaches become entrepreneurs, opening their own practices, hosting corporate wellness seminars, launching their own healthy food companies or restaurants, running retreats or writing books and cookbooks. Becoming an entrepreneur is no easy feat, and no matter what direction you take it, you’re going to have to put in a little blood, sweat, and tears to launch and run a successful business.  (Which is why you MUST have passion).

If you answered YES! to both of the above, move forward to step 2. If not, consider a different career path. 

Find an Accredited Program with Stellar Teachers

While there are numerous Health Coach Certification programs out there, personally, I felt there was one that stood out above all the rest: The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. At 1 year in length, the curriculum focuses on 3 areas: nutrition, coaching, and business, what I think is the trifecta for launching and growing a health coaching practice. 

It’s core philosophy is bio-individuality, which is the idea that their is no one perfect diet that works for everyone. One man’s food is another’s poison, and IIN doesn’t promote any dietary dogma, like you must be vegan or paleo or whatever in order to be healthy. They bring in experts who can discuss the pros and cons of everything, so that you realize that there is no one size fits all prescription for a healthy diet. 

Integrative Nutrition’s roster of teachers is incredible. Honestly at the time, I didn’t know who most of these people were other than they had impressive bios, but, now that I do, I’m in awe that the Integrative Nutrition founder was able to bring them all together. My favorite teachers include:

Dr. Andrew Weil, founder, professor, and director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, is a Harvard trained MD, best-selling author, and founder of healthy restaurant chain, True Food Kitchen. I have a lot of respect for this man. I heard him speak live on multiple occasions, and love that his inclination to heal is towards plants, not prescriptions. 

Dr. Walter Willett  is Chairman of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health where he is also a Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition.  He is my hero. Unlike most university nutrition programs, that are sullied by political and economic interests, Harvard seems to be completely science based (which all nutrition programs should be!).

Marion Nestle  is a Professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University, which she chaired from 1988-2003. She is also the author of 5 prize-winning books, including a personal favorite, Food Politics, that gives you an inside scoop (she used to work for the government) on how how politics sullies food policy. 

Dr. Joel Fuhrman, a physician and the pre-eminent expert on plant-based nutrition. He is a New York Times best-selling author and nutritional researcher who specializes in preventing and reversing disease through nutritional and natural methods, and appears regularly on PBS. His book Eat to Live is incredibly insightful and is one of my favorites. 

Do your research before finding a program that feels right for you. Talk to graduates of the program. Read through their materials, research their teachers. I know it’s a big decision, so if you have questions about IIN, feel free to drop me a line.

Enroll & Do the Work

If you’ve determined you have the passion to pursue health coaching, and found the right program, then what are you waiting for? Enroll and get to work! The sooner you start, the sooner you can start coaching.

If you end up enrolling at Integrative Nutrition, I offer 4 free business mentoring sessions for the first year, plus you can use my friends and family discount (which is a significant discount). Simply mention my name Maria Marlowe when you enroll, to receive both the discount and the coaching.  Don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions.